Doing Things on Your Own Terms with New York Lifestyle and Fashion Photographer Justin Bridges

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New York-based lifestyle and fashion photographer Justin Bridges is a big proponent of doing things on your own terms. As a left-brained creative, Justin believes that an "unconventional" career path for any creative is totally okay. "You don't have to leave your day job to be a creative," reassures Justin.

Coming from a background in finance, he created his own blueprint in how he went from Goldman Sachs as an equity trader to working for J. Crew, Saks Fifth, and the Sartorialist before picking up his camera full-time. Since then, he has also launched his own brand consulting business.

From the time he first picked up the camera to moments where he's felt self-doubt, from being unemployed and seeking opportunities to get into the fashion industry to finally pursuing his passion as a career, Justin shares with us his journey.

I have to ask, what’s your story behind when you first picked up a camera. Basically, how did you get into photography?

The first time I picked up a camera was junior year in college. I borrowed a friend’s camera, like a cheap Canon Rebel or something. I just had a light interest in it. Once I had shot a couple of my friends and was super excited by it. At the time, my photos were complete garbage but I was trying and it sort of sparked something in me. So with my tax refund that year, I bought a little point and shoot camera. This was around the time Facebook was becoming a big hit on campuses, so I would just take my point and shoot camera everywhere and photograph events I’d go to or really just anything. That’s when I sort of fell in love, just taking pictures of friends. When I was in school for finance and economics, I never really thought I could make a career out of this because I never wanted to be a starving artist. I just did it for fun.

I didn’t really do anything with it until I moved to New York and even then I wasn’t doing much. I was still only taking pictures on the weekend, taking pictures of friends, asking people to pose and stuff like that. In my two years at Goldman, I felt myself becoming a little unhappy. I was probably unhappy the whole time but it really started to sink in. I remember I had finally gotten a decent camera, and so I just started to organize shoots with people just to try out stuff. When I decided to leave Goldman, I started a blog and it was the first time I really started to take pictures for a purpose. That’s sort of where it started. I really fell in love with telling a story and shooting actual produced concepts and ideas. My journey to actually becoming a full-fledged photographer started right after I moved away from my blogging days.

I really fell in love with telling a story and shooting actual produced concepts and ideas.
— Justin Bridges

What did that look like when you decided to leave finances and actually pursue this as a business?

After leaving Goldman I was unemployed for a little while. I was just looking for opportunities to get into fashion because I didn’t want to throw a complete Hail Mary by announcing I was some fashion photography with very little skills or connections. I wanted to learn something. I ended up getting an internship at a showroom for women’s clothing. That was the first place where I actually volunteered my photography skills. I was in there doing paperwork and making calls - boring stuff. The girls that worked there were super fun and I asked, “Look, I noticed you don’t have a lot of imagery for the pieces in the showroom. Would it be cool if I shoot something and I’ll do it for free?” I would shoot the girls wearing some of the clothes from the showroom. That was the first time I actually tried shooting clothing, like fashion pieces. That was fun. Then I got a call from a headhunter that was looking to fill a role at J. Crew and I thought to myself, “Finally, a paid job.” I did that interview and I got a temp job at J. Crew in planning. Then they realized how interested I was in clothing. They moved me from planning to the merchandise team, which is basically a buying team for the store. I worked there in the sample closet, worked on reports, all that other stuff that happens in corporate retail. At the same time, I was still managing the blog, shooting street style shots during fashion week. I was trying to shoot as many different things as I could.

After J. Crew I got a call from Saks Fifth Avenue. After a super day interview, I got a job in their Executive Excellence Program which basically trains you to become a buyer or a planner. So I worked at Saks for a couple years as an assistant buyer for Saks.com, and that was an amazing opportunity as well. I would go to fashion week and take my camera, and all that time my photos kept improving. I would take pictures outside shows, inside shows, at showrooms sometimes. I’d take pictures of all my stylish friends and blog about it. Again, I still wasn’t on that path of shooting look books or campaigns or anything like that because I was still trying to learn and be better. After Saks Fifth Avenue, one of the PR companies that I’d visit for market week (I was friends with the owner) had an opportunity and I went and worked for her for a few months where I represented brands like Public School and a couple other men's brands. I worked there four months because at the end of the four months I got a call from Scott Schuman of The Sartorialist through his assistant who said he’d like to meet with me and discuss some ideas.” It was very vague and opaque. I met him during Hurricane Sandy at a hotel that he was staying at because he was displaced. He said, “Look, I want to bring you on to launch a new site for me and also work on my site.” I took that job because I said, “Oh finally I can do photography for a living.” We worked and traveled to Europe for shows. I took photos for the site we were working on that he never launched. So I got a lot of learning in terms of street portraiture from him. After eight or nine months with him, we separated and I decided, “Okay, I can go find a new job or I can just finally go do what I want to do.” At the end of all these jobs, I felt like I had accumulated so much knowledge like PR, sales, and retail. I’ve seen editorial sides and I’ve got enough tools in my kit. Now i just need to get better at photography and start landing some clients.

The first clients I got were all the editors that I met during fashion week, I just started calling them and said “Hey, I know you guys work with a street style photographer already but how about for off seasons.” I was just looking for opportunities to make a buck so I could continue to learn and get some credits and bylines. I ended up working for GQ, Details, and Esquire on some street style stuff and during that time I also worked on my photo education by taking online classes and doing a ton of googling. I was just anything I could do to be a better photographer for actual fashion shoots. During that time where I was shooting street style I started getting calls for other stuff and that's when I could put the practice into real life. I wasn’t awesome my first year of shooting, I don’t think anybody is except for savants. I learned really quickly and after learning you start inserting your own creativity and your own style. After a year or two, I was really going. I just put a lot of effort and energy into the education of it, and in order to fill in the gaps that I couldn’t learn from watching a video, I would just hire really good assistants to help me. I would tell them what I needed to be done and then I watched what they did. When the client wasn’t around I’d ask them questions about how they came about that setup or basically asked questions how they did something in reality versus how I learned on the computer and stuff like that. I started filling in the gaps, writing a ton of notes, and learning really quickly.

I was just jumping from place to place trying to find my way and be strategic but in retrospect, it was probably one of the most helpful things I could have done for my career as a whole.
— Justin Bridges

It seems like for a long time, you weren’t even working in an actual photography position, you were just putting yourself in positions where you could practice photography.

Yes, a lot of the time I spent understanding the importance of retail commerce, as well as building an entire network for myself. Those would be the two things that I think I did when I wasn't actually getting paid for photography. I don't know if it was that genius at the time. I was just jumping from place to place trying to find my way and be strategic but in retrospect, it was probably one of the most helpful things I could have done for my career as a whole.

I was going to ask if you ever struggled in the beginning, or even now, with deciding what you wanted to be known as, as a photographer. After hearing your story and taking into consideration that you’re in New York... I’m wondering how much much does a photographers surrounding play a role in that? Because fashion isn't as prominent or available here. Was fashion a given for you?

What I was really good at was street style, since that was where I started. And the hardest decision for me was deciding what level of professionalism I wanted to go after. I’m not saying street style photography is not a profession, a lot of people do it and do it well, but it's a very “casual” profession in the grand scheme of things. Kind of like you can be a photojournalist or you can be paparazzi, if that makes any sense. Sorry, I know it’s a weak analogy. Regardless, I was like, “Okay, I want to be taken seriously. If I’m going to do photography, I’m going to need to make money.” I looked at it from an economic standpoint and a professional standpoint. I want to be a photographer that can be called on for big campaigns and all that kind of stuff.

At the time, there wasn’t a huge push. You couldn’t look up the business of fashion and read about some 18-year-old kid because they had a huge social following and ended up getting hired by somebody. The only way to get to that place is to sort of act like the big time photographers that are in your world. You got to kind of model yourself after them, and those guys aren’t doing street style photography. So why would I stay in this very limited growth area?

I made the decision to get good at studio lighting and fashion production. I’m sure being in New York helped push it along but I fell in love with clothes the minute I stepped foot in New York. And so I guess It was just one of those inevitable things like if I’m going to shoot something, I’m going to shoot all the clothes that I wish I could buy but can’t afford them or all those things I love seeing on the runway. It’s funny, I don't really even shop much anymore. I have a uniform. I’m still in love with fashion even though I’m not in love with clothing. I do still shoot a lot of fashion but I’ve started to open up my world to portraiture a lot more because it's also just easier to pull together an amazing portrait session with just me and an awesome subject.

You hit the nail in the head. Whether you live in Arizona, Michigan, Georgia, California, whatever - one thing is true. While most of those places aren't fashion capitals, which means you don't get as much access to the clothing or the models you want to shoot, you do have an unlimited source of people you can really tap into for creative work. Portraiture is something I’ve grown to love because I can do it on my own. I don't need a fashion stylist or a makeup artist. I don't need all those extra bells and whistles to do those jobs.

But yeah, to answer your question specifically, I think New York helps push you along the path if you already had an inclination towards a certain type of thing like fashion. But New York is also one of those places where you can pick literally any category of photography and make it work for you. Landscapes might be a little hard if you stay in the city but portraiture, fashion, food... all that stuff can be done in New York. It almost makes it overwhelming to pick what you really like.

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At the beginning, I really tried to think about what’s my thing but then you get busier and you stop worrying about it and you let your personality dictate what you are going to produce.
— Justin Bridges

After you did all your research and you were learning from all these people you were working with and hiring, did you get to the point where you said, "I've learned all these things, now what's my style? What makes me different?" Did you struggle with making you and your artistry unique after working with so many people?

That's such a relevant question. There was a huge push for me from everybody I talked to back when I was starting. There were two pieces of advice. The first was to focus on one category at first so that people will know what they are hiring for. Why they would pick you? And the second piece of advice I got was, "Now that you know how to shoot, you need to figure out what makes a Justin photo a Justin photo and not someone else’s photo." This was before Instagram, which made life a little easier. Those two pieces of advice were almost like torture! I always thought if I was good at something, I could do anything I want. So it was like fuck, how do I narrow this down or how do I pick something I wanna do? How do you make a signature anyway? Like I know how to take photos but is my signature going to be in the lighting? Is it going to be in the angles? Is it going to be the types of clothing or some other element?

At the beginning, I really tried to think about what’s my thing but then you get busier and you stop worrying about it and you let your personality dictate what you are going to produce. I do a lot of mercenary work, also known as commercial work, meaning I’m not necessarily inserting all of my creativity into the project. I’m just doing what a client asks me to do. I do a lot of straight up work like that because I have to pay the bills. Those jobs aren't where I find my signature but every chance I have an editorial or campaign client or I'm doing a personal project, that's where I insert most of my creativity. And I honestly just let it come.

I don't really look at Instagram for inspiration. I don’t really do a lot of fashion magazine editorials. I don't like mood boards honestly (I actually struggle with them). I don’t look at a lot of comparison stuff. In order to find my style, I kind of just let myself drift. I’m not saying my work is any more special than anyone else, I just would say I don't know if it's good or not but I do know that what I do shoot is very unique to me. There is probably someone out there that does shoot like me. There’s 300 million people in the U.S. and there has to be somebody out of those photographers in that group that shoots similar to me. But I can say to myself that what I am shooting is very honest to my perspective in life. Whether that overlaps with somebody or not, I don't really give a shit. The only inspiration I look towards (99% of the time) is old photography books. I look at photography that’s not related to fashion. I try to look at inspiration in places I don’t do any work in, like architectural, design and interior aesthetics. My girlfriend is a food stylist, so I see a lot of food stuff. It doesn’t necessarily inform my eye but it helps break the monotony of fashion images, so that stuff kind of stuff informs or at least helps me distract my eye from seeing other stuff, which I think is just as important.

With that being said, what would you say your niche is? What makes you different?

I’m shooting a personal portrait project for the next year and I just had a session with two different people. The third guy I was working with (I had a meeting afterwards and he is someone I want to start a podcast with), we were talking about our individual work, our aesthetics, and all this other shit. One of the things I told him is that one thing I will say about my work is that not only am I a minimalist in terms of my home and the way I prefer to have my life not to be cluttered, but also in terms of everything in me life, everything in my work. I won't say the word minimalist... not at least in the defined word minimalism but it should be about restraint. Maybe that’s a very Japanese sentiment but I believe that a photo should be taken once you've subtracted everything that’s unnecessary from the image out and it still conveys your thought or point of view (or whatever you're trying to get across).

In that way it can be minimalist or maximalist. I can take a picture with 1000 things behind the subject or integrate it with the subject and that might be the point of the photo. That might be maximalist to somebody but in the same way it's minimalist to me because it’s everything I needed to convey the thought and not a thing more. If you look at any of my work, to some it might be boring but I really work to make the emotion of the person’s face, the movement of the persons body and their clothing be the main focus. And if there's anything else in the scene, it's only because the geometry of the scene, or the colors in the scene made sense to me. I just think you should have restraint. I’ll cut off my answer with restraint.

You can’t be a creative and have zero doubts about yourself and your talent. I just think it makes for a stagnation.
— Justin Bridges

Being in New York, did you have to cut out the noise of worrying about competition? Is that ever something that crossed your mind that brought up insecurity or doubt of “should I pursue this?”

I don't have a lot of self doubt when it comes to decisions. If I decide I’m going to pursue a certain thing, I become an addict. So there is no self-doubt about starting. You can’t be a creative and have zero doubts about yourself and your talent. I just think it makes for a stagnation.

When I’m flipping through Instagram or someone shares a mood board with me, I’m like, "Oh God, some of these images are way better," even if they’re not. It's just like, "Oh someone likes this? Oh shit, this is better than what I’ve done." I’ll have lots of moments like that. That happens. It’s not defeating for me but I definitely live with self-doubt quite a bit. Especially with all these young kids nowadays, doing just any and everything. Even if their work isn’t better, they’re still doing stuff that's different and it's like, "Should I be doing something like that?"

New York has been helpful but I think it’s almost unfair to bring up New York anymore because shit... like Instagram has made every single location appear in one place. I don't even need to see things in New York because there’s landscape photographers and food photographers in other cities that are doing dope things that people in New York don't even touch sometimes. And then people in New York are traveling. There's so much transit in between creative ideas and exposure of those ideas everywhere! If you have an iPhone or any phone in your hand, New York is starting to matter less in terms of the type of creative you see.

The one thing New York does better than everywhere else on the planet is taste level. We are incredibly good at filtering out what is in good taste but by the day (and I have a theory about this) our taste level as a collective group of individuals is being reduced every single day we look at Instagram. We have professional critics but whose reading those pages? We don't have critique anymore. We rarely have apprenticeship anymore. And so collectively as a humanity we are suffering from a lack of taste. That’s probably what you see when you see reality TV. It's tasteless. And that trickles down to every medium, whether it be architecture or food photography. All these mediums that have lower barriers to entry and the more that we need clicks and the more we need to get paid, we put out sub-quality shit just to move the needle. That was the realization that helped me stop giving a shit about whether someone’s work was better than mine. Do I wish I got more validation in terms of engagement on Instagram? Sure. But I also don’t like Instagram, it’s a constant tug of war.

Earlier in our conversation you had mentioned that Instagram made things easier though?

It's a double-edged sword. So, where do I like Instagram and social media? I love it because of the power it has. Here are the reasons I like it: it’s forcing regular people everyday to have an eye, which is a blessing for humanity. People are walking outside of their houses and are looking at the world in a new way. That’s amazing! It’s beautiful. That means that regular people can start to take pictures on the same caliber, at least not in terms of the quality of the image, but in terms of the composition and the thought process everyday as if they were photographers. And that's a beautiful thing. I think it's beautiful that you can build a community without leaving your house. You can feel connected to people on other continents, in other states, other cities, other countries. I love the idea of being able to pick up my phone, and even if I’m not looking for inspiration, I can see cool and interesting things that will play in my subconscious later on. I can learn something. I can also be advertised a product that may be interesting to me, which is really creepy, but also cool. There's a lot of ways that Instagram and social media are awesome in those respects.

That doesn't mean that something cannot be horrible and awesome at the same time. On the negative side, I think that Instagram because of its democratic nature (and I say that very loosely because it’s not democratic with the algorithm), so many people can participate for free that it brings down the taste level. There's only so many people with high taste, you're born with it or its culturized in you but that's very rare. So those of us who have high taste (not to sound like dick) will be mixed in with people with average taste. It's like an Uber rating, if you have one bad rating and you had a 5, your Uber rating drops to like 4 or something. That's how the law of averages works, if there's a lot more average tastemakers and very little high tastemakers, and then even below the average tastemakers there’s a lot of people with no taste, the average number of taste will drop down to average or below average.

I think it’s beautiful that you can build a community without leaving your house.
— Justin Bridges

When that becomes a reality, that means people that have high taste, some of their work will get shine and a lot of it will fall into the conundrum of someone who will scroll past your work quickly and move on. That’s a negative. The very fact that Instagram has a billion photos posted a day, whatever photo we put a lot of time and energy into, is seen for half a second. Nobody goes to instagram to focus on an image, they go to see a bunch of images at once. You want your images to be seen. As photographers, we have to think of getting back to the traditional ways of seeing our work. Which means less people see it but it at least it gets valued more, whether it means having an exhibition or putting together a book where you can only sell 100 copies. At least the people that buy the hundred copies will sit on a page for more than a second and see value in it. Those are the negatives. Taste levels go down, the time spent with the image goes down, and the algorithm is a negative factor where people are putting out work that is very siloed. You see people that have creative bones in their body but they put the same kind of image out over and over because it's what gets the engagement. So you’re not seeing more creativity; you’re seeing less.

So there's good and bad. I use it because I have to, in a way. If you look at the pace at which I post or if you look at the type of things I post, you can really tell I’m posting for nobody but myself. On Instagram I started posting questions with other people who are freelancers or independent contractors that I thought would be nice to pick their brain and add some value to Instagram for those that are trying to freelance or want to learn something. They can either ask these people or learn from the questions I asked them. If you don't want to learn something that's fine but I'm going to do it for me because otherwise I wouldn't have any motivation to be on Instagram. I don’t get work off of Instagram like some people do because I don't put commercial looking images on Instagram and that's what people hire people for. I get my work through word of mouth and because people know I’m good, not because they saw me on Instagram. Those are the low paying jobs. There’s pros and cons. It's a fun thing to be on, I love flipping through it but I’m very realistic about it.

 Photo Cred: Justin Bridges

Photo Cred: Justin Bridges

I stepped back and thought that the one thing we have in common is that we all have humanity, and all the best people in life tackle humanity with the expressions on their face.
— Justin Bridges

Could you tell me a bit more about the Our Faces Portrait Series? Because on your website you have a tab and you posted a teaser video on your instagram, so I’m curious as to what that’s about.

Yes, I alluded to this earlier. I’ve done personal things, I’ve done editorial, I’ve done some test shoots but largely I've felt after four years in the business that I hadn’t really tackled a long-term, personal project. Personal projects are important to me but I also want to get to retirement so I’ve put it aside for too long. I saw something that inspired me back into trying to figure out what would be a cool, personal project. The two things I love shooting that are absolutely paramount to me are expression and personality. So for the Our Faces project my thought was basically like this... I am very politically inclined. I only read non-fiction books. I’m a student of life; and I’m always arguing with people about democratic and republican issues. I’m arguing with my friends about gun rights and women's rights. We’re arguing everyday about all the messes in the world we’re in. I stepped back and thought that the one thing we have in common is that we all have humanity, and all the best people in life tackle humanity with the expressions on their face. The humanity that they bring to the table, the interesting flair of being themselves and trying to survive through all the muddiness. I want to sit down with people but before we shoot, I spend some time digging into their personality and their life and try to get into some deep aspects before we start shooting.

How can I have my style of photography and add that to a very human, realistic portraiture series? I shot a girl who was a model and I liked her not because she was a model, I liked her because she cut her hair in 2013, and for three years she only got hired as a male model. There’s people with interesting stories everywhere! Like the stylist I shot yesterday; I picked him not only because he happened to be an attractive guy, but I know he has an interesting family history. It's an opportunity to connect with people, figure out what their humanity is like and to dig a little deeper. Not every photo will have sadness or something very dramatic in it but the thought behind it is to dig deeper. To find out what's in somebody’s soul and get as close to expressing that in an image as I can.

The project right now is a series of black and white portraits. But for some of the special people that I meet, I'll pull them out, schedule a new shoot and put them in an environment whether it’s their home, their workplace, the church they go to, or wherever they spend a lot of time or is special to them. The video piece... I just started learning how do a little bit of video. It’s very experimental and I think it should be real like that. I don't know what the fuck I’m doing. I’m just trying things. The video piece was more so from a content idea. I’m not going to be posting all my favorite photos until I have a book ready. So, it's really like a content vertical and an opportunity for me to do screen tests with people. I don't know if you remember that Andy Warhol did screen tests for like two years of his career from like 1965-1967. I always have been interested in capturing the moving portrait of somebody. It's really getting someone to express a range of things at once in one image, so that photo that I put up is never going to be that person all the time. For some people it'll end up looking really cool, for some it’ll probably look kind of sexy or something. It might always end up looking one-note collectively, but for each person I hope to capture something that is different from their everyday personality at all times. A friend asked me to write a one pager on it so he could tell people about it and get them to reach out to me but I still haven't been able to sum it up cohesively yet. It's a work in progress and in the end, I’ll be able to look back and go, “This is what I was trying to do and I think I got it.”

You’re going to make mistakes your entire career but the mistakes you make as you get further along your career should get smaller and smaller.
— Justin Bridges

That’s beautiful, I love that. What would you say are three of the biggest lessons you've learned in your career journey so far?

Oh, you saved the hardest thing for last! One of the big lessons that I’ve learned is that it's okay to be the person that you are, doing the thing that you’ve chosen to do. I happen to be a creative but I’m extremely left-brained as well. I worked in finance, I still read non-fiction books, I still study finance, I still study philosophy and all kinds of things. I don't look at inspiration online. I do a lot of left-brained things and I’m still a creative. Somehow there's some people that like what I do, people that call me for interviews, so obviously I’m okay at doing something. I think whoever you are as a person, you don't have to force yourself into the standardized form for that thing. If you’re a creative, you don't have to wear all black, you don't have to talk a certain way, or shoot specific clothing that is en vogue right now. You can be whatever type of person you want to be doing that job, without having to conform to anything.

The second thing I’ve learned is make your biggest mistakes when you first start. You’re going to make mistakes your entire career but the mistakes you make as you get further along your career should get smaller and smaller. The deeper you are into your career, the more those small or big mistakes will end up hurting the longevity of your career versus if you do it your first year and somebody knows they’re hiring somebody raw and young versus if you’re a veteran, somebody is paying you big bucks and if you fuck up, they’re never going to call you again. So make the big mistakes early.

The third thing, I’m going to go with one I give to every single student I talk to, and I just think it’s one that doesn’t make the rounds enough. Don't be afraid to raise your hand when you don't know something. Basically, you're gonna have clients or friends that ask you do stuff or trust you to do something and a lot of the time when you're getting paid to do something, you want to act like an expert and that is important. A lot of the time, you're going to have to as an independent person. You're going to have to sometimes pretend to know something, then get really up to date on it after the fact. The goal is to get really good at it before somebody knows that you didn’t know in the first place. But there's going to be a lot of cases in your career where you’re going to do irreversible damage by pretending you know how to do something and then not be able to deliver on it.

I guess to shorten what I’m saying, when someone presents you with a job or a project, and you have no clue what point they’re making or you've been doing photo your whole life and they ask you to do video and you say, “Oh yeah I can definitely do video!” because you have the equipment but you don't actually know how to do video - it’s best to raise your hand and not be afraid to turn something down. Or, try not be afraid to ask for clarification and just raise your hand and say, “Hey this is something I’m not comfortable with,” or “Can you explain what you meant by x, y, z,” or “I can do this but it’s not going to be my best work. I’d rather revisit this in a few months.” Whatever the case may be, instead of saying yes and then blindly fucking up, you should be honest. When you don’t, you lose trust and trust is honestly the one token we all have to get us hired, it's not just our talent. People hire us because they trust us to get the job done but for long-term relationships it’s because they trust you and they know that if they hire you and give you the money, they’re not going to look like an idiot in front of their boss later on.

Being financially stable allows you to not struggle through your creativity. You can actually just do it when you’re ready.
— Justin Bridges

Anything you’d like to add?

I would actually add something for creatives. I’ve always said this to people individually but I’ve never had the balls to say it out loud for an interview. If you want to be a creative, it's completely okay to become really good at your chosen field before getting explorative. It's completely okay to put commerce over artistry and not worry about whether or not you're selling out, as long as at some point you make a plan to get back to artistry. It took me four years to do a real passion project. If you look on Instagram, it looks like people are doing passion projects every fucking day. You have to not get sidetracked by what you see in social.

I’m saying this because I’m practicing it. As long as you're good at being a creative it’s okay to say, "For the first ten years of my career I’m going to soak up as much knowledge, learn from as many people, do as many different types of projects as I can to figure out what I like and don't like, what I’m good at and what I’m not good at." It’s okay to spend ten years completely focused on making money, paying bills, saving cash, getting closer to retirement. Even twenty years, I don’t give a shit, but it's completely okay to prioritize all those things. And then at the end of your career, when you actually saved money and you're not a starving artist, when you have a family and have some time because you’re not having to work for every single paycheck anymore, then decide going, “Okay, I’m ready to pick my head up! I know what I know. I know what I’m good at. Now I want to just do things that I’m passionate about. I want to take the jobs that I love with the brands that I like. I want to do the editorials or the personal projects that I’ve brainstormed my whole career that I wrote in a notebook and I want to execute them because I have the time and money to do them."

Right now people rush and I think because it’s a game plan like, “If you're going to be an artist, you're going to be an artist.” We’re obsessed with not filling that out, we’re obsessed with appearances, we’re obsessed with doing things the way that they’ve been done, we’re obsessed with all these things that I think are completely like who gives a shit? No one has your back in the long run, it's just you and your camera. Nobody cares about you once you’re not relevant anyway. I’m a big proponent of doing things on your own terms and I like to marry that with the fact that I’m a big proponent of financially responsibility. I’m a big proponent of people being way more financially clued into their lives. Being financially stable allows you to not struggle through your creativity. You can actually just do it when you’re ready. Maybe some people don’t think about finance at all and that allows them to not struggle, even though they’re struggling. Maybe some creativity is better fostered through struggle and that’s fine, you can be that kind of person too, but for those of us who want to retire on time and live a life where every trip they take they're not worrying how they're going to pay their credit card. I just want to say to those people it’s okay. You don't have to leave your day job to be a creative. Passion doesn't make a career. It just makes another thing for you to do and that's okay.

 Photo Cred: Justin Bridges

Photo Cred: Justin Bridges

 Photo Cred: Justin Bridges

Photo Cred: Justin Bridges

 Photo Cred: Justin Bridges

Photo Cred: Justin Bridges

 Photo Cred: Justin Bridges

Photo Cred: Justin Bridges

 Photo Cred: Justin Bridges

Photo Cred: Justin Bridges